SLIDER

A week in my life in Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, 13 August 2018

I say this all the time, but I cannot believe how long I've been away from home; it's been almost eight months since I left the UK on New Years Eve. Having spent a couple of months in Southeast Asia and five more in New Zealand, Jonny and I have just arrived at our new home in Australia. 
My time in New Zealand was completely unscheduled but I soon got into a routine. With the job hunt starting all over again here in Oz, it got me reminiscing about months past in Auckland.

So what did I get up to in an average week?

Wednesday

It's a super miserable morning but I'm not too worried because it's National Pineapple Day and I somehow got myself invited to a cocktail party with Dole, the pineapple suppliers here. I met up with my English friend, Emily and we spend the evening with the Dole team at Talulahs, a tiki bar by the harbour. 

Thursday

I woke up with a hangover so Thursday was a little bit slow as you can imagine. Jonny is working night shifts this week so after work, I turn the heated blanket on and get straight into bed. Made myself dinner, called my mum and spent the rest of the evening scrolling through Instagram.

Friday

It was my last day at the insurance office I work at and it was a little bit bittersweet. I was only meant to be temping for four weeks but I'm finishing my placement 3 months later with an annoying 10 day gap before we leave. I guess it's a good excuse to just chill out for a bit before the travelling starts again though.

Since Jonny is at work again, I got myself dinner from Jar Story near where I work; beef and quinoa salad, chocolate chia pudding and an almond milk and date shake. It was still sunny when I got some so I ate it out in the garden. 
Jonny ended up home by 10pm so we decided to make the most of our Friday night and headed back into the city to hit up the Casino. 

Saturday

We got up early and drive to our favourite cafe, Little Sister for breakfast and as usual I was very excited, just look at the first page of the menu and you'll understand. Last week I went for the oats and I spent the whole week thinking about what I was going to order when we got back. This time I ordered the chocolate hot cakes. Yum.
Since we seemed to be on a winning streak after last night, we went back to the casino this afternoon, stopping off at the gym, and then GIAPO on the way. It will always be my favourite place for extravagant ice cream so I am trying to squeeze in as many visits as I can before we leave. The shop was full as usual but we managed to grab seats inside so this time I could sit and watch the magic happen in the kitchen.

Everyone seemed to be loving the new New Zealand sheeps milk and banana flavour, I watched one hand crafted cone, dipped in chocolate and topped with peanut and banana go out after another; I admit, I was very tempted - they looked incredible but I'm not huge on peanut butter so I went for my usual Hokey Pokey - plus an extra scoop of caramel & hazelnut praline underneath. Coated with thick milk chocolate and honeycomb pieces I was in heaven.
After another suspiciously good run at the casino, we headed home, via the supermarket (for chocolate raisins and dried apricots) and then to HELLS pizza. We watched Game of Thrones in bed until the early hours of the morning.

Sunday

You would have thought we'd be sick of eating by now but oh no, not when there is brunch to be had! We found a paleo café just across the road from the gym. I ordered my avotoast minus the toast on a sweet potato rosti with a date and cacao smoothie and it was delicious!
Next; we head to the gym. again. I've never been to the gym so much in my entire life but with Jonny going every day, its super easy for me to just go with him and strangely enough, I am actually really enjoying it. Sometimes I really push myself but sometimes, I just go for a walk on the treadmill and just look at it as getting a little bit of movement into my day. Sunday morning is Yoga!
It was such nice weather when we left that we decided to go on a bit of an adventure, it was going to be our penultimate weekend in Auckland after all. But first; more food. Jonny picked up a Lamington since I'd not had one and then we went out in search of a waterfall. After getting a bit lost, we ended up at the beach which was just as good a place as any to settle down and fight over who got the biggest half of cake. lol
After a few more episodes of GoT, somehow it was 11pm. Since we had been in bed for a few hours so I thought I could safety assume that I was done eating for the day but apparently not; I can never assume when it comes to Jonny and McDonalds. After spending the journey deliberating about whether I really needed to eat any more, when I saw an advert for the new mint chocolate shake, there was no stopping me. With no whipped cream left, they suggested topping it with soft serve instead and it is the only way I'm ever going to order my milkshakes again. SO GOOD.

Monday 

My first day off started with 4am alarm because a week of late shifts is always followed by a week of early shifts. After Jonny turned all the lights on, made a big mess and left for work, I fell back to sleep until 10. Finally with some time to myself, I made a start of my inbox which I had been severely neglecting over the past few weeks and started thinking about what blog posts I wanted to get done with my time off before all the madness started again. Then I get a call from a recruiter offering me work for the next day. 

Tuesday 

It was another early start today but this time I actually had to get out of bed. I was just covering a receptionist who was off sick for a few days but it was in a part of town that I hadn't been to before so I had fun trying to navigate my way there. I don't know why but I have always wanted to do a receptionist job; well, now I can tick that off of my list!

It's been a simple life over the past few months; lots of eating (because it's one of my favourite things to do) and a little bit of exploring too. New Zealand has been cold and we both had full time job but it's still been a lot of fun!

Some of the most memorable places I've ever slept

Monday, 23 July 2018

Travelling hasn't just all been a big adventure (well it has, but), it's actually helped open my eyes to other ways of doing things; hence today's blog post. I realise that whilst a few of my most memorable experiences have indeed been at a luxury hotel, you don't need to spend thousands on accommodation to have great trip. If you're clever about it, you can do even the most expensive destinations on a budget and still have a blast. Whether its a cheap or expensive destination, there are always ways around it! ​Check out this useful tool to help you experience a Dubai holiday on any budget shoestring to splurge!

Although it seems pretty obvious, this really was a bit of a discovery for me. To put it into perspective, the first time I visited Bali, I blew so much money I don't know what I was thinking. I'm glad I did it back then because I don't think I could justify spending £300 a night on a holiday right now. When I went back to Bali last year, my accommodation cost £7 a night; that's almost 50 times less omg.

I've slept in some very expensive rooms and now, I've slept on the airport floor to save paying for a bed. Here are some of my most memorable nights:

Purple Monkey Hostel, Pai 
I had never heard of Pai but when I arrived in Thailand the whole backpacking community were talking about how amazing it was so I decided to book a couple of days and give it a go.

My trip turned into a week long visit and it became my favorite part of Thailand; it definitely had some of the coolest hostels but all of the good ones were out in the middle of nowhere and I didn't want to hire a motorbike so I had to compromise.

 After a few nights in a shared dorm at Purple Monkey, I couldn't take any more, it was just too basic and with Electric Valley festival coming up, I decided to book myself into one of the private rooms because I knew that I'd want to get a proper sleep the day afterwards.

Turned out that the private rooms were actually tiny little huts, just big enough to fit the mattress on the floor. There were 5 of them, all lined up in different colours. Super cute and pretty hilarious (they looked like an oversized dog kennels to me) with a padlock to lock the front door; it was the perfect place to shut myself away from the world and get some much needed sleep. 

The Mondrian Hotel, London 
The Mondrian is my favourite hotel in London and I have mentioned our many stays there on the blog before; although somehow, I failed to mention the time/s we stayed in their river view balcony suite (which is going for £924 including breakfast for tonight).

I assumed it was going to be an once in a lifetime experience, seriously, not even I would spend that much on one night but somehow, it happened again and we got to stay in this incredible room on two different occasions. Interesting what a couple of 4am fire alarms and a good old complaint email can get you.

The room was 700 sqft with two bathrooms - one with a freestanding bath, a separate dining area and a huge balcony overlooking the Thames. We drank complimentary champagne in the room, had massages at the spa and dinner and cocktails at their Sea Containers restaurant downstairs. Along with crab scrambled eggs and avo toast in the morning; this will forever be one of my most memorable hotel visits ever. 

Tipsy Tiger Hostel, Penang 
Tipsy Tiger was the best party hostel that I stayed in during my stint in Southeast Asia plus it was super cheap for such a popular place. My £7 got me a bed, a 2 liter bottle of water, two very strong mixed drinks at the bar and as much nutella and toast (and well you know, fruit) as I could eat the next morning. It was big, spacious and super chilled out during the day which made sense because you don't really get much sleep sharing a bedroom with 19 other ridiculously drunk people.

Yep. The 20 bed at Tipsy Tiger was the biggest room I came across and stayed in on my trip and yes, there were multiple couples having sex every. single. night. That was the tame stuff; all sorts of things went down in that room and as you can imagine, it was just madness.

Like all of my favourite hostels, I extended my stay here and did 6 nights on the trot. I left at 7am on the last day, completley broken and had to take a week off to recover, vowing I'd never go back. oops.

ME Hotel, Majorca 
It's not often I go back to the same place again and again, but this is one exception; I went back one year after another and was still desperate for more.

I've been to a few ME hotels but the one in Majorca is very arty, very lifestyle based and it is such a vibe. Honestly, that is the perfect the word for it; they even have a room called VIBE - although I've always stayed in sea view PASSION room because it has bathtub looking over the beach. Priorities.

Along with the bath tub, the rooms are minimalist, fresh, white and crisp with an open plan bathroom so you better be comfortable with whoever you are sharing with. With an adult only pool, an on site beach restaurant and music pumping all day from Nikki Beach next door, I didn't want to leave the hotel all too often; but of course we did (a couple of times at least.)

Chilled days would be spent drinking frozen cocktails by the pool and then heading out to Port Adriano for a seafood feast and more adventurous days would see us exploring Palma old town on an open top bus and making the most of Magaluf's infamous night life with super club, BCM just down the road - another Majorca holiday highlight for me, I've been going to that place since I was 17. 

Home, Auckland 
I wasn't sure if I should put this one in but I always think to myself how important part of my life story this little place is going to be. Not only was it my first home, the first place that I paid rent for but it's the first place I lived with a partner and the first time I've lived in another country, let alone one that is about as far away from home as I could get. It's funny where life takes you. 

Ubud Village Resort, Ubud 
I couldnt come in with an intro like that and then not mention the rooms. We actually stayed at The Elysian in Bali too but whilst I loved that place equally, it was much less authentic and I will always remember arriving at this hotel. It was our first time in Bali and I didn't realise that places like this existed. A completely open reception area meant we could see across the whole property while the sun set and we sipped on welcome drinks. As it got darker, candles lit every walkway in the resort; we hopped on a golf buggy to our villa. A big wooden gated entrance, a private pool, an outdoor bathtub and soft Balinese music playing in the background, made it (and Ubud in general) the most romantic place I've ever visited.

I wrote this paragraph and then realised that I have quite literally quoted this post word on word; very strong memories as you can see. 

Sukhuvati Retreat, Canggu 
For someone who had never done yoga before, it had always been a strange dream of mine to visit a yoga retreat and I finally made it happen last year.

What an experience; with daily treatments at the spa and in the villa, vegan food that I didn't know existed and a room to myself, even more extravagant than the one in Ubud, it was one of the most amazing things I've ever done.

Having taken up yoga since arriving in New Zealand, I would love to return to Sukhuvati one day.
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7 Awesome Things to fill in the gaps in your Auckland Itinerary

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Life in Auckland is pretty similar to life in England. I mean it’s easy to just go about my day and forget that I am actually on the other side of the world. I got into a bit of a get up, go to work sort of routine but I’ve been trying my hardest to make some effort to go and do things because actually, I am on the other side of the world and it's an awesome opportunity! Obviously I have to fit this stuff in around work but whether that’s days out at the weekend or wandering around the city during my lunch break I'm making it happen. So here are a few things I've been squeezing around work and some ideas for anyone who has a few hours spare during a visit to Auckland!

Snow Planet
Just a half hour drive from the CBD, (Central Business District) Snow planet is an indoor ski centre and even though I was expectedly terrible, it's definitely a fun way to spend a few hours – we jumped in the car and hit up one of their night sessions after work. I've never been skiing before; indoor or outdoor but it’s fine, they were pretty prepared for my skillset with a little beginners slope and staff everywhere to help direct you. I did spend a lot of time falling on my butt but that’s all part of the fun right?

Beaches
I didn't realise just how many beaches there were to explore in Auckland but there are loads, especially ‘out west’ which is convenient because that’s where we live but it's really not that far from the city either. For the first few weeks after I arrived, every weekend we would get on the bike and go and visit a different one. There’s Muarai and Takapuna but Brown's Bay was my favourite. There was a live event on over the weekend and food stalls all along the front, so we grabbed some lunch (we were halfway through Narcos at the time so made a beeline for the Colombian stand) followed by an ice cream and spent the afternoon listening to the band play in the sunshine. 

Queen Street
This is where I spend most of my time because a. it’s outside my office and b.it reminds me most of home. I like to think of Queen Street as Aucklands answer to Oxford Street apart from that there are alot less people. Still, like when I was at home, I often spend my lunch hours wandering around the shops. There aren’t as many clothes stores here but what NZ lacks in clothes it definitely makes up for with food - Queen Street is full of places to eat! You’ll also find the IMAX cinema and the Sky Tower just a street behind.

Eat Dessert
Admittedly I do have a bit of an ice cream problem but Auckland is the best place for me because it's full of luxury dessert bars! Amongst them all, as you already know, my favourite has to be GIAPO and his imaginative and delicious creations – still the most incredible ice cream in the world if you ask me - I never know what to expect when I head there. These guys are totally geniuses. Whereever I go I try to eat as local as possible, i am fascinated by Maori culture and giapo's maori fry bread ice cream is one of my favourite "new foods" that I’ve discovered whilst travelling and i totally love it! That's why this place will always be one of my top things to do in New Zealand

The Viaduct
This is a wonderful part of the city that I have only just discovered is there. It’s the harbour area, lined with bars and restaurants which honestly, is such a great place to spend an evening. Like I said, its all new to me, I met up with Emily, who I found in the Brits in Auckland Facebook group and on our hunt for happy hour cocktails, we stumbled across The Culpeper. We sat down outside and made our way through the a few espresso martinis whilst the sunset on the water and was back again the week after looking for our next stop - we've been to an Irish pub and a tiki bar there since! Facebook has been crazy useful for stuff like this since I've been travelling!

Sky City Casino
I had kinda come to terms with whilst Auckland is huge and very spread out, everything back home is much bigger and faster paced. But last week, I discovered one thing in this city that that doesn’t apply and that would be the Casino at SkyCITY. With over 2,100 machines and 150 tables, its pretty huge and being open 24/7, it was absolutely buzzing when we went on Saturday night. With bars and restaurants all through it, you can spend hours and hours at this place; and we did!

Go to a gig
Newly discovered by me, Auckland in fact isn't the capital of New Zealand, Wellington is. But saying that, Auckland is actually bigger so you can bet if an act is coming all the way to New Zealand, they'll be playing somewhere in Auckland. I made a last minute decision to join the boys when they went to see Machine Gun Kelly last month and had a blast! Kiwis are pretty into their live events and the atmosphere was amazing! Meet MGKs newest fan!

5 Things I’m loving about life in New Zealand right now

Saturday, 5 May 2018

When I left for my big trip back in September, I had no idea what to expect; I certainly didn't expect it to take me all the way to New Zealand. I've been living here for 11 weeks now and finally I’m starting to feel at home. In the past few weeks, I've moved into my first home, started working and yesterday, I even ignored the sat nav and drove myself home in half the time! 

Life is much slower out here compared to London and right now, I'm enjoying the novelty of all sorts of strange things, from the bus driver saying hello to each person who gets on the bus to just how easy it is to get my junk food fix (seriously I have never seen so many fast food places). Here are some other things I am seriously loving about New Zealand. 

Renting My First Home
When I first arrived here, I went straight to stay with Jonny in his flat-share. But sharing a small room in a house that sometimes had 6 other people in it was hard and we really needed to look for our own place. After a few mediocre flat viewings in locations that made it hard for either one of us to get to work, desperation hit and I posted in a Facebook group with our ideal situation; as if by magic, someone got in touch with the perfect place. It was down the road from where we started and the owner had been renting it out on air bnb (increasingly popular with solo travellers like me because they're a great way to avoid the dreaded single person supplement according to schofields.  See my last post to find out why I'm not solo travelling right now) so it was pretty self contained. It had everything we'd need; plus a swimming pool and a garden with strawberries growing in it. We knew it was right as soon as we saw it and moved in a couple of days later. 
The only problem is that now Jonny knows just how undomesticated I am; unlike in London, it's not normal to still live at home at 25 in NZ. I'm learning though, he's taught me how to use the washing machine and how to change the sheets, although I must be pretty bad because he still prefers to do it himself haha.

The Accent
Honestly, at the moment it still all sounds Australian but I love that even though we all speak the same language, everyone sounds different to me.

I was trying to work out why it's something that I like so much and I finally came to a conclusion. It's because even though my day to day feels pretty normal right now, it’s a constant reminder that I’m not at home anymore and in fact, I’m still on this huge adventure, on the other side of the world.


Riding a Motorbike
Before I left the UK, there was absolutely no way you would have gotten me on the back of a motorbike. Even when I was in Vietnam, where I was desperate to experience the country in the most authentic way I could, I refused most of the time. It seems that quiet roads (there are hardly any people in this country) and a bike licence was all that was needed to convince me to hop on the back of one in the end.

Jonny bought it when I arrived, and we’ve taken it and put it back together a couple of times so I feel a bit attached to it now, like a pet or something. *Sometimes* I actually prefer it over the car; like if we go to the beach on a sunny day or if we pop out for something late at night when the roads really are empty.

Sals Pizza
After weeks of getting my pizza fix from the same places that I do when I'm back home, last week, we went for something a little more exciting. Sal's is based on NY style pizza and it was so good. We got a half and half pizza; pepperoni on one side and crispy breaded chicken on the other, both topped with delicious stringy cheese. It was just like the stuff you see in the films and it's all I've been thinking about this week haha.

They serve it by slice (as well as half or whole) which makes sense because we only got through half the whole pizza between us which is pretty unimpressive for a weekend cheat meal, but fear not! I 100% support that pizza is better the next day so those leftover slices went straight into the fridge to chill and tasted even better in the morning!

Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream
I had my first chocolate dipped ice cream at the cinema and I initially though that it was just the IMAX being a little bit bouji with their snacks. But whether it's the cinema, Giapo or even the ice cream van I seen to be coming across this chocolate dipped phenomenon more and more. My favourite has to have been this one that I got from a corner shop (they call them Dairy's out here. Weird) by the beach in Wellington. There was a vat of molten chocolate next to the tubs of ice cream which my white chocolate and hokey pokey (another strange NZ word haha it means honeycomb) scoop got submerged into. It then dried solid around the outside and stopped any melted ice cream from running out. Sweet As.

The most incredible ice cream in the world: GIAPO, New Zealand

Monday, 12 March 2018

I always knew I was a big foodie but it wasn't until I got to Auckland that I realised just how big a part of my life it is. Yes, I'm still travelling, but my time here is going to be a bit different from my travels so far because I'm planning to stay a while and living in a brand new city (about as far away from home as I can get) means a whole load of new food to try. 

Walking around the supermarket is even more exciting than it is back home (no joke, food shopping has always been one of my favourite things.) I have discovered kumaras, (aka sweet potato) Cadbury's Caramilk (which NZ was going crazy for when I arrived), and I have eaten more ice cream since I got here than I have ever before in my entire life. Mcflurry's are absolutely loaded with toppings but ridiculously expensive, we get through a family sized tub three times a week and I'm making my way through New Zealand's selection of ice cream bars, but my daily habit hit its peak when I visited GIAPO last week. It popped up on Instagram again and again and the photos looked out of this world so I had to visit.
incredible ice cream
Located on Gore Street, in what I have decided is the posh part of town, GIAPO can be spotted from a mile away, its the one with people outside at all times. With everyone holding these weird and wonderful creations, on my first visit, I near enough ran inside of order one for myself.

It was quite overwhelming at first; apart from some strange flavours like Avocado with Sweet Soy Gravy, the menu gave nothing away and seeing things like Hokey Pokey, Afghan Cookies and Kofe Samoa listed meant nothing to me as an English person. Luckily they have someone to talk you through the whole process and ordering becomes all part of the fun. The staff there really make the whole experience such a luxury, from talking you through each flavour to handing out water and wet wipes (absolute essentials) afterwards! 
The best ice cream ever
We went for two traditionally Kiwi flavours, Hokey Pokey (which I now know just means honeycomb. lol) and Afghan Cookie which is a chocolate biscuit of some sort. Now usually when it comes to ice cream, I always go for a tub but if you're gonna do it, you might as well do it properly, right? GIAPO is such a vibe when it comes to serving the ice cream; if you don't fancy one of their crazy cones, you could always go for a Yorkshire pudding or a chocolate cup instead. For me though, the crazy indulgent cones were too much to resist. I picked a chocolate coated waffle cone with golden nuts and freeze dried raspberries the first time and when I came back with Jonny, I was feeling even more boujie and went for one painted in gold. 

For those of you who are wondering, Jonny is my boyfriend and he's from New Zealand. Remember my blog post on Phuket? I met him there and it's just been full on crazy ever since. He was on holiday with his friends and had to go back to work a few weeks later so I guess I kinda just followed him home haha. 
With the weird and wonderful menu (and I'm not just talking about the ice cream or the cones - you can order yours with a chocolate Sky Tower replica on it if you want), GIAPO must be some of the most innovative ice cream in the world, it's definitely the most extravagant I've had. 

As well as my order, which was obviously delicious, I also love the way that the store has been set out in that firstly, you don't get to pick your toppings. Each flavour has its own combination and that's what you get. Secondly you don't see them put it all together like you usually would so you have no idea what it's going to look like when it arrives. When they were brought out to us, mine had been dipped in melted chocolate and had honeycomb chunks sticking out of it and Jonny's was a bit of a monster covered in cornflakes with a chocolate biscuit on top. I only have photos of mine though as I haven't started putting my blogger demands on him yet and he took a bite out of it as soon as it arrived ahah. 
Giapo Ice Cream
Eating them was a lot of fun and with all my ice cream training since I arrived (lol) I managed to finish the whole thing without dropping any of it. I would have been pretty upset if I did because honestly, the whole thing was so delicious. Once I had gotten through the layer of chocolate on top, the ice cream itself was soft, creamy and full of flavour. And the cone? Yeah, that was a really good idea. I've never had anything like it before so if you're ever in Auckland, this place is a must. They also have vegan and GF menus so there really is no excuse!

 I'm already planning my next visit so keep an eye on my instagram story because there is a lot more I want to try. Namely, the hot chips in a cone (odd but I'm very interestd) and their famous 3D printed chocolate squid which is a tribute to TE Papa, the real one that's on exhibition in Wellington!
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